(Jan. 17) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(Jan. 17) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 9:24 am

1. Senate approves $1.1 trillion spending deal

The Democratic-led Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the federal government funded through the end of September. The 72-26 vote came a day after Republicans who control the House ignored conservative groups urging them to defeat the bill and passed it, 359-67. President Obama is expected to sign the deal, based on a compromise sealed in December to avert another government shutdown. [ABC News]

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2. Three men are accused of sparking an explosive California fire

A fast-moving 1,700-acre wildfire erupted near Los Angeles on Thursday, and three campers were arrested on charges of starting the blaze in or near Angeles National Forest. The three — Clifford E. Henry, 22; Jonathan C. Jarrell, 23; and Steven R. Aguirre, 21 — were being held on $20,000 bail. Authorities claimed they were tossing paper into a fire when a wind gust scattered embers all over. Four people were reported injured. [The New York Times, Los Angeles Times]

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3. American Hustle and Gravity top the Oscar nominations

The nominees for this year's Academy Awards are in. Leading the list, which was unveiled Thursday, are American Hustle and Gravity with 10 nominations each, followed by the film expected to give this year's ceremony gravitas, 12 Years a Slave, with nine. Along with those three, the candidates for the coveted Best Picture Oscar included Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street. [CBS News]

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4. Ohio uses new drug combination to execute inmate

The state of Ohio executed Dennis McGuire on Thursday with a combination of drugs — midazolam and hydromorphone — never before used in a lethal injection. McGuire's lawyers had called the method untested and inhumane. The new cocktail took 15 minutes to kill McGuire, who admitted to raping and killing a pregnant woman, Joy Stewart, in 1989. In his final statement, he said, "I'm going to heaven, I'll see you there when you come." [The Washington Post]

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5. Kerry calls on Syrian opposition leaders to talk peace

Secretary of State John Kerry is urging Syria's opposition to join Geneva peace talks starting January 21, calling the conference "the best opportunity to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution." The main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, is meeting in Istanbul on Friday to vote on whether to go. Before the meeting, the government gave Russia a cease-fire plan for the city of Aleppo and offered a prisoner swap. [BBC News]

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6. Australian Open matches stopped due to 110-degree heat

Tournament authorities halted the Australian Open on Thursday after temperatures hit 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Matches were postponed on outdoor courts, and play was suspended in two arenas until retractable roofs had been closed. No. 25-seed Alize Cornet of France sobbed on court Thursday after a grueling three-set win, criticizing officials for not stopping play earlier. "It was an oven," she said. "An oven." [Weather.com]

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7. A new study finds teens souring on Facebook

New data from iStrategyLabs appears to confirm what many social media experts have been saying for years — teens are losing interest in Facebook. There are 3 million fewer teenagers using the social network than there were three years ago, when the digital consulting agency first crunched the numbers. But the changing times aren't all bad for Facebook. The number of users 55 or older shot up by 80.4 percent from 2011 to 2013. [The Huffington Post]

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8. Japanese soldier, one of the last WWII holdouts, dies

Hiroo Onoda, an Imperial Japanese Army officer who stayed in the jungle on a Philippine island and refused to surrender for 29 years, has died in Tokyo at age 91. Onoda was a young lieutenant in 1945, and was under orders not to surrender. He didn't believe the war was over until a delegation, including his brother and old commander, was flown out to see him. He returned to a transformed nation in 1974, and was received by jubilant crowds. [The New York Times]

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9. MLB approves expanded use of instant replay

Major League Baseball approved a big expansion of the use of instant replay to cut down on blown calls by umpires, which have tortured fans and teams as long as the game has been played. "I think it's great," San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's about getting it right." Owners and players approved the change, as did umps, who have taken heat when TV viewers could see — over and over, in slow motion — that they were wrong. [Sports Illustrated]

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10. Gilligan's Island actor Russell Johnson dies

Russell Johnson, the actor who played the Professor on the classic sitcom Gilligan's Island, died Thursday of kidney failure. He was 89. Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, said on Facebook that Johnson "was a true gentleman, a good father, a great friend." The other male stars of the comedy about quirky castaways have also died — Bob Denver (Gilligan) in 2005; Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper) in 1990; and Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) in 1989. [USA Today]

Compiled by theweek.com

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